Don't brush off signs of a "brain attack"

Any sign of stroke is a medical emergency. It is crucial to be able to recognize the typical symptoms and go to a hospital for immediate evaluation, even if the symptoms go away on their own. Stroke signs that are mild or go away on their own could be a transient ischemic attack (TIA), but TIAs can damage the brain or herald a larger stroke. Danger signs include face drooping on one side, numbness or weakness on one side, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, or abnormal vision. A TIA should be treated with the same urgency as a longer-lasting stroke. Delay can result in damage to the brain or a larger stroke. More »

Kinder, gentler colonoscopy preps

New options today for clearing out the colon before colonoscopy can make the experience less disagreeable. New "colon preps" require drinking less liquid laxatives, in combination with taking pills. Chilled and flavored liquids may be more palatable. (Locked) More »

Men: Don't ignore signs of depression

The most typical signs of depression are persistent sadness and disinterest, but the illness can look different in men. Men sometimes mask their depression in anger or irritability. Other symptoms of masked depression are bodily aches and pains, alcohol abuse, and reckless or escapist behaviors, like gambling. Mild depression is relieved by medication, talk therapy, or both. For more severe depression, medication is often the best option. After symptoms of depression begin to resolve, it’s important to continue taking medications to prevent relapse. (Locked) More »

Chronic heartburn: Do you need an endoscopy?

Certain people with chronic heartburn can benefit from having endoscopy, a procedure to check the esophagus for signs of more serious problems, like cancer. The risk of esophageal cancer associated with chronic heartburn is small. The benefits of endoscopy must be weighed against the downsides of having the procedure, which include inconvenience, added health care costs, the risk of complications, and increased worry about the risk of cancer. (Locked) More »

Make your end-of-life wishes known

End-of-life medical planning provides reassurance that a person’s preferences will be carried out if he or she cannot express them. It also saves the family and other loved ones from needless stress and uncertainty over medical decisions. The first step is to think about what kind of medical care would be acceptable to sustain life in the case of an accident, worsening chronic disease, or terminal illness. Then the person must choose a stand-in called a health care agent to make medical decisions if and when the ill or injured person cannot. The person should also create a document to state his or her end-of-life medical preferences, often called an advance directive or living will. (Locked) More »

New tests promise smarter prostate cancer screening and treatment

A number of new tests combine measurements of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) with other cancer markers in blood and urine to more accurately identify men who should have a prostate biopsy to look for prostate cancer. New gene-based tests provide information to help decide whether a man should have a repeat biopsy when the previous one found no cancer, yet PSA remains high. Gene-based tests can also help men and their doctors assess how likely the cancer is to spread and progress. A slow-growing, low-risk cancer may not demand immediate treatment. In that situation, a man could choose to closely monitor the cancer and move forward with treatment only when the cancer shows signs of spreading. This strategy is known as active surveillance or watchful waiting. (Locked) More »

Diets for aging brains

Following either of two popular heart-healthy styles of eating-the Mediterranean and DASH diets-could help preserve memory and other core mental skills (Locked) More »